Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman believes he will succeed in obtaining grant money to improve runway safety at an airport that’s not in Brookings — nor even in the state of Oregon.
The airport is the Del Norte County Regional Airport in Crescent City, and the city’s interest revolves around the fact that the facility is vital for the region’s commerce and economic vitality.
The city applied for the money — from the state Department of Transportation’s ConnectOregon program — because it is a member of the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority, a consortium of Brookings, Crescent City, Del Norte and Curry counties and two Indian tribes in two states that manage the airport.
The airport needs $16 million worth of work, including improving runway shoulders to meet minimum Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards, which it must do by December 2015 or face loss of its operating permit.
A total of $42 million is available statewide, with $4.2 million allocated for projects in Curry, Coos, Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties.
The FAA has already approved funding 95 percent of the cost, and local agencies are required to come up with the 5 percent match. The $400,000 for which Brookings applied will go toward that match.
“It’s a highly competitive process,” Milliman said. “Many more projects (are) submitted than money (is) available.”
The 11-member Regional Review Committee met this week to rank 15 proposals submitted by cities, counties, transit agencies and private transportation companies. Milliman said this project ranked second and “is well positioned” to be approved by the Oregon Transportation Committee in August.
The Del Norte improvements are up against some stiff competition: The top-ranked project is a railroad tunnel rehabilitation project submitted by the International Port of Coos Bay.
“Assuming this project receives final approval, the port will receive about $2 million to repair eight tunnels,” Milliman said. “That high ranking wasn’t a surprise as the railroad has experienced a dramatic increase in use since the port assumed ownership about three years ago. It’s re-emerged as a major element of the regional economy.”
Six other projects were included in the regions, including a bus replacement project submitted by Curry County Transit.
Another project for which the city submitted a grant is its Brookings Oregon Coast Bike Network, which would involve improvements on the path from Harris Beach to the business district. That project is ranked eighth.
The city applied for $180,000 to fund 80 percent of the cost of rehabilitating the existing segment of bike and pedestrian path to meet state standards. Work would include widening the surface and adjusting the guardrail along Highway 101. It would complement a larger project planned for construction this summer from Harris Beach State Park to Dawson Road.
The state is considering allocating an additional $21 million to the program, as well.
“If this happens, it’s likely that they’ll look at the rankings of regional projects and select from that list,” Milliman said. “And our bike and pedestrian path project is next on the list.”